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Class privileged white women will likely have their abortion access far less infringed upon than poor people and women of color.

By Muqing M. Zhang On Oct. 6, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her and despite two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, coming forward stating that Kavanaugh has a history of sexual violence. Since before and after the confirmation, serious concerns were raised with regards to what will happen to abortion access. While many publications have correctly argued that abortion access will be further restricted, an understanding of the hugely different impact that greater abortion restrictions will have on privileged versus marginalized people has been lost. Abortion access will not be restricted evenly across the population of people who can get pregnant. Instead, the harmful impact will be highly disparate, landing largely on those who lack the class and race privilege to circumvent the flood of restrictive abortion laws that are coming, while class privileged white women, many of whom supported Trump and Kavanaugh, will be able to evade the brunt of these laws. Kavanaugh’s oppositional stance on abortion is clear. In a 2017 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh argued against the “tide of free willing judicial creation of unenumerated rights” when praising Associate Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe, which held that the right to abortion fell under the umbrella of the right to privacy. It is highly likely that Kavanaugh will vote with the five-member conservative majority against the four-member liberal minority of the Supreme Court when it comes to abortion. Abortion access was first legalized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, in which the Supreme Court legalized abortion by ruling that the right to abortion was encompassed within the right to privacy, which was an already established right. The court in Roe established a standard based on the different trimesters to be applied to every case that evaluated whether a law or regulation that restricted access to abortion should be struck down or not. The Roe standard was eventually replaced in 1992 by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe’s core ruling that legalized abortion but created the standard that exists today with regards to evaluating the constitutionality of laws that restrict abortion. The Casey standard, also referred to as the “undue burden” standard, states that if a “regulation has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking abortion,” then the court will strike down the regulation or law.
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